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Old-fashioned day provides lots of fun in East Shelby

By Tom Rivers, Editor Posted 17 July 2016 at 11:00 am

EAST SHELBY – Horses pull a wagon of people for a ride today during Old Tyme Day at the East Shelby Community Bible Church. About 2,000 people attend the annual event, where pie, hot dogs, lemonade and other activities are offered for a penny.

Kids and some adults fire gum balls with a sling shot at a giant cutout of Goliath.

Sophia Johnston of Batavia takes a break with a mule named Lucy, which gave rides to kids during Olde Tyme Day.

These four kids watch a group do square dancing in the center of the recreated West Jackson Corners hamlet.

Jonathan Wasnoch, 17, of Medina works in the blacksmith shop.

Bob Murphy of Oakfield checks on the team of horses before they took another group on a ride. Murphy attends the East Shelby Community Bible Church and works with the horses on Olde Tyme Day.

David Green and other East Shelby firefighters were busy with traffic control during the day.

Church volunteers built this mini replica of the church for the West Jackson Corners hamlet. It was among the new additions to the day’s festival.

Today’s Olde Tyme Day had a Wild West theme and included a holdup of this stagecoach.

Elaine Renouf, left, and Alice Root were among the church volunteers who baked and served 300 pies – 2,400 slices altogether that sold for a penny apiece.

Assemblywoman Corwin announces she won’t seek re-election

Staff Reports Posted 12 July 2016 at 12:00 am
Jane Corwin

Jane Corwin

Jane Corwin, who represents an Assembly district that includes the Town of Shelby in Orleans County, announced today she won’t be seeking re-election to a fifth two-year term.

Corwin of Clarence is among the Republican leaders in the State Assembly. She ran for Congress in 2011, losing a close election to Kathy Hochul, who is now the state’s lieutenant governor.

Corwin’s district was mostly in Erie and Niagara counties, but did include the one Orleans town. She appeared at some functions in Orleans, mostly Republican political events.

“I pride myself in leading by example,” Corwin said in a statement this evening, “and I firmly believe that instituting term limits on state officials will go a long way in ending the corruption and dysfunction in Albany.”

George Maziard, Nic Culver and Jane Corwin

File photo – Assemblywoman Jane Corwin joined former State Sen. George Maziarz and Nic Culver, then 14, during the dedication of a historical marker in September 2014. The marker highlights a famous murder case in West Shelby, when an illiterate German immigrant nearly was executed for a murder he didn’t commit. Corwin helped pay for the marker.

Corwin said she was going to “term myself out” from the State Legislature and give someone else have “the opportunity to represent our community and bring Western New York values to the ‘people’s house.'”

Recently she has pushed for a stronger state response to the opioid overdose crisis and also the “zombie house” problem, where banks own houses but let them sit vacant for many years.

The Republican Party will have to move quickly to find a candidate for the position. The Buffalo News is reporting Corwin’s announcement is just two days before the Thursday deadline for submitting nominating petitions for the Sept. 13 state primary elections.

Fire damages house in Shelby on Maple Ridge Road

By Tom Rivers, Editor Posted 28 June 2016 at 4:22 pm

SHELBY – A fire this afternoon in a garage damaged a house owned by Kasmier “Mike” Szulis. This photo shows Shelby firefighters Jason Watts, top left, and Andy Watts.

The 1979 house, built by Mr. Szulis, may have suffered smoke damage inside, in addition to the more extensive damage in the garage, family members said.

Medina firefighter Steve Cooley uses a chain saw to cut through the garage door. Jonathan Higgins of the Medina Fire Department also assisted at the scene.

Mr. Szulis was out watering berries when he noticed smoke in the garage of the house at 12335 Maple Ridge Rd. Family members say they are grateful no one was injured in the fire and that the fire was mostly contained to the garage.

The fire is under investigation.

4 came through in big way at Father-Daughter Dance for Medina girl

By Tom Rivers, Editor Posted 15 June 2016 at 12:00 am

Provided photo – Ten-year-old Marah had four dates for the Father-Daughter Dance on June 4 in Shelby, including from left: Phil Seitzer, her uncle Scott Coleman, grandfather Steve Burgess, and great-grandfather Glenn Burgess.

MEDINA – When the Shelby Volunteer Fire Company held its first-ever Father-Daughter Dance on June 4, a 10-year-old girl from Medina had the most dates – four.

Amy Ritzenthaler of Medina is grateful for the four men who took her daughter, Marah, to the event. Marah’s father was unavailable. She was sad for days leading up to the event when her friends talked about the special dance and the fancy dresses they would be wearing.

Ritzenthaler mentioned the situation to Marah’s great-grandfather and other family members. Several of the men in the family eagerly offered to take her.

Marah walked through the doors of the Shelby Rec Hall with her great-grandfather Glenn Burgess, grandfather Steve Burgess, uncle Scott Coleman and Phil Seitzer, Ritzenthaler’s best friend’s boyfriend.

“I can’t thank those guys enough for coming together,” Ritzenthaler said. “She will remember it for the rest of her life.”

Glenn Burgess, the great-grandfather, was the first to agree to go to the dance. Burgess, 83, was happy to slow-dance with Marah.

“He is one of Marah’s favorite people in the world and he knows that,” Ritzenthaler said. “They enjoy each other.”

The four men either took off from work or switched their plans to go to the dance. They surprised Marah on June 4, who was dressed up for the day thinking she was going to an up-do contest at a cook-out. But then the four men showed up to take her to the dance.

“They all had a great time,” Ritzenthaler said. “It turned out to be a great day.”

Father-Daughter Dance is a sell-out at Shelby

By Tom Rivers, Editor Posted 5 June 2016 at 10:00 am

150 attend debut event on Saturday

SHELBY – Raymond James of Medina dances with his daughter Tanaya, 2, during the Father-Daughter Dance on Saturday at the Shelby Volunteer Fire Company.

The Ladies Auxiliary put on the event for the first time on Friday. The event was sold out with 150 people attending.

“It’s nice for the dads to be able to do something nice with their daughters,” said Julianne McGrath, one of the event organizers. “It’s by far exceeded our expectations.”

The rec hall was transformed into a dance floor for fathers and their daughters on Saturday.

Tim Elliott of Medina dances with his daughter Madelyn, 7. Tim said he was thankful for a chance to take his daughter out on a date.

Gary Watts poses for a silly photo with his granddaughters, Charlotte and Makenzie McGrath.

Tim Zeiner of Medina poses for a picture with his kids, from left: Taylor, Madison and Morgan (in back). “I want to take them out and show them a good time,” Zeiner said.

Fathers and daughters have fun on the dance floor. Event organizers said they wanted to put on a family-oriented outing near Father’s Day.

County honors firefighters, departments with most training hours

Staff Reports Posted 19 May 2016 at 12:00 am

Provided photo

ALBION – The Shelby Volunteer Fire Company was honored on Monday for attaining the most training hours for both fire and EMS training.

The top photo shows, from left: Dale Banker, emergency management coordinator for Orleans County; Jerry Lewis, state fire instructor; and Shelby Fire Chief Andy Benz.

Shelby Volunteer Fire Company was recognized during the Fire Chief’s Association Meeting. Shelby firefighters completed 1,782.5 hours for fire service and 1,110 hours for Emergency Medical Services training between April 1, 2015 and March 31, 2016. Shelby led all departments in the county in both categories.

Provided photo

File photo by Tom Rivers

Provided photo

Dale Banker and Jerry Lewis recognize John Miller III and Lori Miller, both of Shelby, for each each completing more than 200 hours of training. Their names are now on a plaque that hangs in the classroom at the Emergency Management Office on West Countyhouse Road. John Miller III also received the award for highest individual EMS training time with 240 hours.

Ben Diltz of the Carlton Fire Department puts on the turnout gear, a multi-step task that needed to be done properly in less than 2 minutes as part of a basic firefighting course. He is pictured on May 16, 2015. Diltz had the most fire training hours for an individual with 189 hours.

County Legislators John DeFillipps, second from left, and Bill Eick, right, hold the Fire and EMS Plaques that will hang in the Legislative Chambers at the County Clerks’ Building.  These plaques recognize the top agency for fire and EMS training each year.

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Trac-Fab wheelchair will allow more injured vets to go hunting at Warrior House

Posted 17 May 2016 at 12:00 am

Photo by Thom Jennings – Pictured with the Trac-Fab wheelchair, includes, from left: Joe Pionessa, Peter Zeliff Jr., Ed Spence and Jim Tignanelli.

By Thom Jennings, Correspondent

SHELBY – The Warrior House of WNY has access to a new vehicle that will allow them to serve more injured soldiers thanks to a phone call and five anonymous donors.

Last week Jim Tignanelli, president of the Police Officers Association of Michigan, presented a specially modified wheelchair to former US Marine Corporal Ed Spence of Operation Injured Soldier,  Peter Zeliff Jr. of The Warrior House of WNY and Joe Pionessa of Christian Bow Hunters.

The Trac-Fab wheelchair is designed to assist persons with disabilities so they can participate in hunting and fishing. The $15,000 price tag makes it prohibitive for many individuals and organizations but when Spence gave Trac-Fab’s Ed Humpert a call, he reached out to Tignanelli who found five anonymous donors, all of whom are military vets themselves, to pay for the chair that is now in Orleans County.

“It’s going to continue, we will keep looking for the next place to give one away,” Tignanelli said. “Last week I saw this 17-year-old kid at McDonald’s when we were on the way to deliver one of the chairs and he told me it restored his faith in humanity. Hearing that from a 17 year-old restored my faith in humanity.”

Tignanelli noted he is “a car guy that can take a transmission apart” but does not hunt. “It’s guys like you that drive us to do this, we love the things you are doing here with The Warrior House. It is very gratifying, we would not have a place to bring these things without guys like you.”

Zeliff owns the property on Salt Works Road that has become The Warrior House. He makes the property available for veterans, many with injuries, to go hunting. Zeliff has assembled a team of volunteers to provide the veterans with food, and also to serve as guides while they pursue geese, pheasants and deer.

The Trac-Fab wheelchair saw its first action this past weekend as The Warrior House hosted a turkey hunt. Spence said he plans to make use of the chair as often as possible and it will soon be a familiar site at The Warrior House of WNY’s weekend hunts.

“This will give us an opportunity to reach more veterans and expand our program,” Zeliff said. “There are a lot of people behind the scenes that make this possible, especially all our wives.”

For more information on The Warrior House of WNY email Zeliff at

Accident, sheared off poles close 63 for several hours

By Tom Rivers, Editor Posted 27 April 2016 at 9:00 am

SHELBY – A Winnebago that left the road on Route 63, south of the Village of Medina, took down telephone poles, forcing the shut down of the road for several hours today.

National Grid crews have been on the scene putting up at least two new telephone poles.

The accident occurred at about noon on a section of Route 63 known as Coleman’s Curve. No one was seriously injured in the accident. This photo shows the RV after it was towed to Lyon’s Collision in Medina.

National Grid works to restore power and put up new poles.

Shelby residents speak against proposed quarry by refuge during DEC hearing

By Tom Rivers, Editor Posted 9 March 2016 at 8:00 am
Linda Stahl

Linda Stahl, a Shelby resident, speaks during a public hearing about a proposed quarry on Fletcher Chapel Road. Stahl urged the group to get state legislators involved in fighting the project.

MEDINA – Binders full of studies and data, trying to address environmental concerns for a proposed quarry just north of the Iroquois National Wildlife Refuge, did little to put residents at ease about the potential detriments of an industrial mine at the corner of Fletcher Chapel and Sour Springs roads.

Frontier Stone LLC has been working on the project for 10 years. It has submitted a Draft Environmental Impact Statement to the state Department of Environmental Conservation. The DEIS was the focus of the public hearing Tuesday at Medina High School. About 100 people attended the hearing and all of the speakers opposed the project.

“This community has a moral obligation to protect this national treasure,” said John Huber, who lives near the proposed quarry. He said he is “absolutely opposed” to the quarry.

John Huber

John Huber would be a neighbor of a new quarry in Shelby. He said it would be a detriment to a quiet community.

Frontier Stone LLC and its president, David Mahar, are proposing a limestone quarry on 215 acres, which the company wants to excavate on 172 acres in four phases over 75 years. The land is currently owned by Chester Zelazny and is mostly used for farming. It is zoned residential-agriculture. The Shelby Town Board would need to change the zoning to industrial for the project to move forward, if Frontier can satisfy the DEC.

Residents said the quarry would disrupt a quiet neighborhood, with potential of affecting the water table for residents that rely on well water.

Local resident Bob Hoffman, a retired Albion teacher, submitted 20 photos of woodpeckers, butterflies and other wildlife. He said he has spent hundreds of hours hiking and exploring the refuge.

“This is a special place,” Hoffman said. “This is a treasure.”

His wife, Barbara Hoffman, said the peace and quiet of the refuge is therapeutic to many in the community, including children with disabilities.

Bob Hoffman

Bob Hoffman speaks during the public hearing that was attended by about 100 people at Medina High School.

Residents asked the DEC to give more analysis to sediment in ditches and creeks, dust particles in the air, ground vibrations and the impact on houses and the STAMP site in the Town of Alabama, which will be home to companies in nanotechnology and other high-tech manufacturing.

Carl Zenger of Lockport has been a long-time volunteer at the refuge, and is a past president of the Friends of Iroquois National Wildlife Refuge. He said the refuge draws 35,000 to 50,000 visitors a year, making it an important tourism and economic resource for the community.

The refuge is an important nesting spot for bald eagles, short-eared owls and other wildlife that he said would be affected by truck traffic, blasting, noise, dust in air, light pollution, and contaminants in ditches and fields.

“Now is the time to terminate this proposal,” Zenger said.

Carl Zenger

Carl Zenger, past president of the Friends of the Iroquois National Wildlife Refuge, said the refuge is a critical habitat for birds and other wildlife. The site is also an important attraction for the the community, providing a big economic impact.

Mike Fuller, the Shelby town highway superintendent, gave the briefest remarks of about 20 speakers in the two-hour hearing.

“I’m short and sweet,” Fuller said. “The stone quarry is too close to the wildlife refuge.”

Allen Robinson, a member of the Clarendon Town Board, said the town has issues with a quarry run by Hanson Aggregates. He urged the Shelby board to push for waterlines paid for by Frontier for residents in the project area, if the project moves forward. He said water discharges from the quarry into ditches should also be measured. (The project includes dewatering of the quarry area with a maximum water withdrawal for mine at 554,264 gallons per day, which would be discharged at the southwest corner of the site to an existing agricultural drainage ditch.)

“I feel sorry for all of you that have to go through this,” Robinson said. “Stick together and talk to your Town Board members. They still have to rezone the property.”

Wendi Pencille of Ryan Road is one of the leaders of Citizens for Shelby Preservation. She said the Lockport formation runs 200 miles. She said Frontier could find another mine site in a less environmentally sensitive area.

Wendi Pencille

Wendi Pencille said there are other sites for the quarry without risk to a wildlife refuge.

She said it was “unconscionable” that a “massively invasive industrial use” would be considered for such a peaceful farming and residential community by a wildlife refuge.

Pencille said the DEC shouldn’t have let the application advance as far as it has given the presence of the wildlife refuge.

“The refuge is a delicate ecosystem and it deserves your protection,” Pencille said. “If you wouldn’t protect a sensitive wetlands ecosystem from the risks and effects of industrial mining, then what environment would the Department of Environmental Conservation actually deem worth conserving? Please tell us.”

Charles Malcomb, special counsel from the Hodgson Russ law firm, is representing the Town of Shelby with the project’s review. Malcombsaid the mining could disrupt the groundwater for residents in the area, including 255 students who live at the Iroquois Job Corps. They use about 36,000 to 40,000 gallons of groundwater a day.

“Disruption of their water source could force relocation,” Malcomb said.

He asked the DEC to insist on greater setbacks from the mining operation and neighboring properties, and for dust mitigation on trucks leaving the quarry site. Frontier should also be required to assist residents and the Job Corps if the quarry affects the water table, Malcomb said.

“The refuge is unique, fragile and a great environmental resource for the Town of Shelby and State of New York,” Malcomb said.

He asked for additional studies on the impact of dewatering on the refuge and the water table, and more investigation into pollutants, sediment and dust getting into the refuge because of the quarry.

Charles Malcomb

Charles Malcomb, an attorney for the Town of Shelby, expresses concerns about the project. He told the DEC he was also disappointed the hearing on Tuesday was scheduled during the Shelby Town Board meeting, preventing the majority of the Town Board from attending the hearing.

The quarry would add 15 jobs to the community and there would be an average of 30 truck trips per hour, with 15 coming and going. The quarry would be open from 6 a.m. to 6 p.m. on weekdays and 6 a.m. to noon on Saturdays, with blasting from 9 a.m. to 4 p.m. during weekdays, said Scott Sheeley, regional permit administrator for the DEC.

Mike Donahue, vice president of the Orleans County Sportsmen’s Federation, and Mike Elam of Albion, president of the 12,000-member Finger Lakes Conservation Council, spoke against the project on Tuesday.

“The refuge provides necessary sanctuary to many birds for their survival,” Elam said. “The peace and serenity of the area will be destroyed by the blasting and trucks.”

The DEC will accept written comments from the public on the DEIS for the quarry until March 15. The DEC also has scheduled an issues conference to determine if issues need additional work and explanation from Frontier. The conference will be begin 10 a.m. on April 26 at Ridgeway Town Hall, 410 West Ave., Medina and will continue throughout the day and on April 27 if necessary.

For more on the project, click here to be directed to the DEC.

To see Frontier’s website on the project, click here.

DEC schedules hearing on proposed quarry in Shelby

By Tom Rivers, Editor Posted 18 February 2016 at 12:00 am

SHELBY – Nearly two years after the last public hearing for a proposed quarry in Shelby near a wildlife refuge, the issue will again come before the community.

Frontier Stone LLC is proposing a limestone quarry on 215 acres, which the company wants to excavate on 172 acres in four phases over 75 years. The new quarry would be on Fletcher Chapel Road, several hundred feet east of Sour Springs Road.

During a public hearing on April 30, 2014, residents expressed concern about the impact on the wildlife refuge, property values, roads and a peaceful rural life, among many issues.

Frontier Stone has been working for nearly two years to respond to those concerns raised at the hearing as well as written comments.

The state Department of Environmental Conservation will have a legislative/public comment hearing at 6:30 p.m. on March 8 at Medina High School, 2 Mustang Drive.

The community is invited to comment on the draft environmental impact statement, the mined land reclamation and water withdrawal permit, and the draft combined permit.

Frontier, which is based in Wilson, is proposing that quarrying would be conducted by standard drill and blast technology with front-end loaders and excavators feeding a primary crusher with shot rock, the DEC said in a notice.

Frontier is proposing to use an on-site processing plant and to mine below the water table. The project includes dewatering of the quarry area with a maximum water withdrawal for mine at 554,264 gallons per day, which would be discharged at the southwest corner of the site to an existing agricultural drainage ditch.

The reclamation objective will be to create open space with two lakes for recreation or wildlife habitat. The two lakes, separated by an existing utility line, would be approximately 35 and 156 acres, the DEC said in the notice.

DEC Administrative Law Judge D. Scott Bassinson will conduct the hearing on March 8.

“All persons, organizations, corporations or government agencies that may be affected by the proposed project are invited to attend the hearing and to submit oral or written comments on the Draft EIS, the mined land reclamation and water withdrawal permit applications and the draft combined permit,” the DEC said. “While it is not necessary to file in advance to speak at the hearing, lengthy comments should be submitted in writing and summarized for oral presentation. Equal weight will be given to both oral and written comments. Reasonable time limits may be set for each speaker as necessary to afford all attendees an opportunity to be heard.”

The DEC also has scheduled an issues conference for Bassinson, as administrative law judge, to determine if issues need additional work and explanation from Frontier. The conference will be begin 10 a.m. on April 26 at Ridgeway Town Hall, 410 West Ave., Medina and will continue throughout the day and on April 27 if necessary.

“The purpose of the issues conference is to determine party status for any person or organization that has properly filed a petition (as indicated below), and to narrow and define those issues, if any, that will require adjudication in this matter,” the DEC said. “Participation in the issues conference shall be limited to DEC staff, applicant, and those persons or organizations requesting party status.”

For more on the public hearing and issues conference, click here to see the notice from the DEC.